Think tanks divided over Trump’s approach towards China

The arrival of President Donald Trump at the White House has triggered an intense debate within China’s influential think-tanks, with most concurring that that the change of guard in the United States poses serious challenges to China, but also opens out new opportunities, including likely support for the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.

At a more fundamental level, some analysts of are of the view that that if Mr. Trump pursues the mantra of ‘American exceptionalism’, it would obstruct the betterment of Sino-U.S. ties.

“The Americans claim they are exceptional, like a city on a hill. But the world has changed and new countries have emerged. But U.S. identity has not changed. So the rise of China challenges U.S. identity,” Wang Yiwei, professor at Renmin University told The Hindu .

Listing a variety of responses to Mr. Trump’s arrival among the Chinese think-tanks, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post quoted Ting Gong, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) — a think tank under the Foreign Ministry — as saying that Mr. Trump was likely to be more supportive of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative than his predecessor Barack Obama.

Yuan Zheng, a director of the U.S. Diplomacy Research Centre at the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), asserted that Mr. Trump showed a clear tendency towards protectionism. “The new U.S. President was likely to adopt a hardline approach in trade, demand for Beijing to play by international rules and threaten it with sanctions,” SCMP said, quoting his paraphrased remarks.

The Chinese establishment has opposed Washington’s possible turn towards protectionism. Liu Zongyi of of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies explained to The Hindu that “China believes that only by opening up, globalisation and regional economic cooperation can economic growth and social development can be secured.”

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